Saturday, August 1, 2015


It's a new month so it's time for a new theme.  From the email.
.August's NaBloPoMo Theme: KNOW!

What do you know, and how well do you know it? I'm willing to bet that you're an expert on something, and thankfully, it's not the same old things that everyone seems to declare themselves an expert for.
So this month, we're pooling our knowledge. We're telling people what we know. We're listening to other people's thoughts. And we're learning something in the process.

You can read more about the new NaBloPoMo theme on our opening post.
More from the website.
Knowing what you know, what you really really know, is important because those skills become what you can teach. It's what you can pass along to another human being and make your mark on this world. Yes, we all have things that we know that we can pass along to others. I'm willing to bet that you do it every week through your blog whether you've thought about it like that or not.

So this month's theme is celebrating what you know. Pop over to #BlogHerU to learn more about experts. Back to school means reflecting on what you learned as a child. And maybe it's time to learn something new. To start a new project, learn a new language, take that cooking class.

To just know more.
This theme looks very promising.  In fact, this is right up my alley.  I love learning new things and love even more to pass along what I know.  Both of those, as well as dealing my feelings about collapse and living in Detroit, which "collapsed first and avoided the rush," are the reasons I keep this blog.  I hardly need an invitation to write about what I know, but I'll take it anyway.  I may even use the prompts.  Monday's prompt, write about three things I know, has me thinking already.  Check back to see if I use it.
Sign up for August's NaBloPoMo and tell us what you know.
I did the day the page was posted and am now sixteenth on the blogroll.  Yes, I'm that eager.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Limbo Kitty returns as oil and gas fall more to close July

I opened and closed Oil falls to lowest prices since March with the state of the local retail gas market and the prospects for lower prices.
When I checked Gas Buddy two weeks ago, the stations in my old neighborhood were selling regular for $2.76.  Tonight, it shows them at $2.65.  Furthermore, the Detroit average has fallen to $2.72, 21 cents below the $2.93 it was at two weeks ago.  It appears likely to fall even for continuing falling prices at the pump and the return of Limbo Kitty.  Happy motoring!
Yesterday, I had an errand that took me near my old neighborhood and its cheap gas stations, so I drove the Prius to fill up.  The corner station and one of the two down the street were selling regular for $2.56 and a third was selling it for $2.55.  I filled up the Prius at the lowest price station, which should last me another 400+ miles.  By the time my new car needs another fill-up, I'll be teaching in the area and prices should be even lower.

Prices have continued to drop, as Gas Buddy shows that all of those stations lowered their prices last night by another penny and the station where I fueled up dropped its price even lower this afternoon to $2.51.  They are all pursuing the Detroit average, which was $2.62 yesterday and sank to $2.61 today.  Crude oil and seasonal price patterns will pull prices down even more.  Last Friday, WTI was selling for 48.14 and Brent for $54.62.  The same day, RBOB gasoline futures settled below the 200-day moving average of $1.8514, and they were even lower yesterday at $1.83.  While the downward trend reversed itself with a dead cat bounce of $48.52 for WTI as listed on Oil-Price.Net, Brent's fall continued unabated to $53.31 yesterday.  The slide became even more precipitous today, as the Reuters headline read Oil drops for fifth week; U.S. crude in biggest monthly fall since 2008.
U.S. crude posted its biggest monthly drop since the 2008 financial crisis on Friday after a string of losses in July triggered by China's stock market slump and signs that top Middle East producers were pumping crude at record levels.

A higher U.S. oil rig count for a second straight week added to the market's downside Friday despite a weaker dollar, which would normally support commodities.
U.S. crude settled down $1.40, or almost 3 percent, at $47.32 a barrel. It slid more than 2 percent on the week.

Through July, U.S. crude was down 21 percent, its largest monthly decline since October 2008, when oil had an epic collapse at the outbreak of the financial crisis.

Brent settled down $1.10, or 2 percent, at $52.21 a barrel. It lost 5 percent on the week and 18 percent on the month.
Oil has continued to fall after the U.S. market closed.  It's time for Limbo Kitty to return.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

WXYZ on redistricting reform

I concluded WXYZ previews marijuana legalization for the 2016 ballot by writing "WXYZ also looked at redistricting reform in the same newscast.  Stay tuned for an entry about that tomorrow."  Here it is, Push to have nonpartisan committees draw district lines in Michigan.

There's a movement in Michigan right now to change the way our state is redistricted.
Jeremy Moss is my district's Representative in Lansing and efforts like this make my glad he is.  As to whether his bill will get anywhere in the legislature, I have my strong doubts.  In that case, his plan B of taking to the people for a vote is much more likely to happen.  I hope it succeeds.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WXYZ previews marijuana legalization for the 2016 ballot

I repeated the following story in Good news from the Supreme Court this week.
It made one of the two predictions I made in Meanwhile, at the bottom of the ballot come true.
Two years ago, I told one of my students that there would be two changes in his lifetime propelled by his generation--marijuana legalization and marriage equality.
One down, one to go.
We may not have to wait that long, as I posted Marijuana legalization may be on the Michigan ballot next year just this past April--no fooling!  WXYZ reports in Debating the push to legalize marijuana in Michigan that 40,000 signatures have already been collected to put one of the measures on the ballot.

The push is on to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Michigan.
Rocky Raczkowski is on the losing side of this debate.  I'm not surprised.  As I wrote in Report on the 2014 Clawson 4th of July parade, "I volunteered for Gary Peters when he ran against him in 2010 and Peters beat him, so I'm not scared of Rocky."  I'm not impressed by him, either.

WXYZ also looked at redistricting reform in the same newscast.  Stay tuned for an entry about that tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 article on Ann Arbor News endorsements

Chip Smith was the only challenger for City Council endorsed by the Ann Arbor News.
Credit: Chip Smith for Council.
Ann Arbor News endorses four city council candidates in primary
The Ann Arbor News weighed in on next month's Democratic primary by issuing its endorsements for City Council on Sunday afternoon.  The newspaper endorsed three incumbents and one challenger.

The paper's endorsements follow those of the mayor, labor unions, and environmental organizations.  The mayor supports three of the challengers in the primaries, while the unions and environmentalists generally endorsed the incumbents, as reported by The Michigan Daily.
The winners of the primary next Tuesday will likely go on to the general election unopposed, as there are no Republican candidates.  That could change, as independent candidates can still file after the primary.
Names of the eight candidates running for four nominations along with the details of their endorsements at the link in the headline.

Sorry for the late posting, but I barely had time to write and post the article itself.  Posting it here as part of its social media promotion had to wait until after work.  That hasn't hurt the article, as it's currently the most viewed story on Elections.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Oil falls to lowest prices since March

I updated the first half of Gas and oil fall for Ruby's July driving update with Farewell Ruby, hello Prius!  Now it's time to update the other half.

When I checked Gas Buddy two weeks ago, the stations in my old neighborhood were selling regular for $2.76.  Tonight, it shows them at $2.65.  Furthermore, the Detroit average has fallen to $2.72, 21 cents below the $2.93 it was at two weeks ago.  It appears likely to fall even more, as Reuters reported last Friday in Oil falls to lowest close since March, down a fourth week.
Brent and U.S. crude futures settled on Friday at their lowest since March and posted their fourth straight weekly decline as weak economic data from China and a rise in U.S. oil drilling rigs applied pressure.
Brent September crude fell 65 cents to settle at $54.62 a barrel, the lowest close since March 19 and off 4.3 percent for the week. The $54.30 session low was the lowest front-month price since April 2.

U.S. September crude fell 31 cents to end at $48.14, its lowest settlement since March 31 and down 5.5 percent for the week. The session low of $47.72 was the lowest intraday price since April 1.
Brent and U.S. crude have so far clocked double-digit losses in July. With U.S. crude off 19 percent, it could challenge December's 19.4 percent drop, which was the biggest monthly slump since the financial crisis in 2008.
Demand for gasoline has been strong, keeping refineries churning at high utilization rates, but August U.S. RBOB gasoline futures settled below its 200-day moving average of $1.8514 a gallon on Friday.

"This looks like profit-taking as the end of the U.S. driving season gets closer," said Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
Follow over the jump for more from Reuters.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

'Spectre' trailer pays homage to classic Bond

I haven't blogged about James Bond since last December, when I posted Tales of two trailers: James Bond and Star Wars.  A new trailer came out last week, which gives me the perfect opportunity to write about my favorite honorary Crazy Eddie in cinema.

Without any further ado, I present the New SPECTRE Trailer.

Watch the new trailer for SPECTRE. A cryptic message from the past sends James Bond on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as SPECTRE.

Meanwhile back in London, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the new head of the Centre for National Security, questions Bond’s actions and challenges the relevance of MI6, led by M (Ralph Fiennes). Bond covertly enlists Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) to help him seek out Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), the daughter of his old nemesis Mr White (Jesper Christensen), who may hold the clue to untangling the web of SPECTRE. As the daughter of an assassin, she understands Bond in a way most others cannot.

As Bond ventures towards the heart of SPECTRE, he learns of a chilling connection between himself and the enemy he seeks, played by Christoph Waltz.

Released in the UK on October 26, and in the US on November 6, 2015.
I caught a lot of references to Bond films from the 1960s through 1990s in the trailer.  I could list them myself, but I'm outsourcing them to Alltime Movies' SPECTRE Trailer | Top 5 Things We Learned.

It's here! The first full trailer for SPECTRE, and boy it's a doozy! Join Jamie as he analyzes the fine details and gleans everything we can learn about James Bond's new adventure.
I caught the "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" references in the score, too.  If so, then audiences might get a "save the world" plot the likes of which we haven't seen since "Die Another Day" in 2002.  The Daniel Craig Bond movies have been much more modest in scope.  Even if SPECTRE doesn't deliver on those implied stakes, I'm still looking forward to watching the movie and writing an an analysis like Crazy Eddie at the Movies 4--the science fiction in Skyfall becomes science fact.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Farewell Ruby, hello Prius!

Its' been only two weeks since I posted Gas and oil fall for Ruby's July driving update, but I have news the car just the same.  I traded her in for a Prius, keeping the promise I made in last October's Michigan universities on buying cars to make my next car a hybrid or all-electric vehicle.  That means it's time to say good-bye as I did for Yuki.

Ruby's final odometer reading was 92,223 miles.  Coming exactly two weeks after she rolled over 92,000 miles on July 10th, that translates into 15.93 miles per day or the equivalent of 485.8 miles per standard month.  That's less than the 16.95 miles per day and 516.95 miles per standard month I reported two weeks ago, but it's a lot more than either the 9.62 miles/day and 293.27 miles/month my wife and I drove her this time last year or the 11.36 miles/day and 346.59 miles per month I drove Yuki during July last year.  This result further confirms the increased miles driven since we moved in January from 4,000 miles per year to approximately 6,000 miles per year.  We're contributing to Americans driving more and setting records--all the more reason to buy a hybrid.

Thank you, Ruby, for four years and 20,000 miles of reliable driving as well as allowing me to keep a promise to my students that I'd buy an American nameplate car.  Also, thank you for being a good trade-in to allow me to keep my resolution to buy a hybrid.  Added to my promise to my wife that the car we bought in between would be whatever she wanted, which was a German car, I've been able to keep three promises in a row about the cars I'd buy.  Farewell, and may you be as good a car for your next owner!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fandoms collide as a drum corps plays anime music

Otakon, possibly still the largest anime convention in the U.S., begins today.  Drum corps season is also in full swing.  Between the convergence of those events* and my current "I can't be all DOOM all the time" mood, I'm going to connect the two by posting an example of two of my fandoms colliding, Madison Scouts playing the theme to "Lupin III" from "The Castle of Cagliostro," one of my favorite anime movies.

The 1998 Madison Scouts play the theme from Lupin III at DCI World Championships in Orlando.
Not a bad connection.

I'll see if I can post something more serious tomorrow.  In the meantime, enjoy the show!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

'Hunger Games: Mockingjay' at Comic-Con and the Saturn Awards

It's been a while since I've written about Hunger Games, so in the spirit of 'The Walking Dead' at Comic-Con, the Emmys, and the Saturn Awards and San Diego Comic Con trailer for 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens', I present The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 United Comic-Con TEASER.

After being symbolized as the "Mockingjay", Katniss Everdeen and District 13 engage in an all-out revolution against the autocratic Capitol.
The former drum corps member and marching band judge in me loves the marching and weapon work in this video.

Follow over the jump to read how "Mockingjay, Part 1" fared at last month's Saturn Awards.